A dozen protesters have been killed during the most recent protests about the water situation. In July, protests erupted because of polluted water and the lack of electricity and they have continued ever since.
A few days ago, the Iranian consulate building was torched by protesters in a clear message that the people of Iraq are fed up with Iran’s meddling. Hundreds of people in the southern Iraqi city in the oil-rich province have been taken to hospital after drinking the contaminated water.
As well as protesting about the water situation, the Iraqi people have voiced their discontent about the province’s infrastructure that has been so badly neglected that it is at the point of collapse. The employment situation is dire and the people’s lives are becoming more and more difficult.
Iran is a major problem because it has become entangled in the internal politics of Iraq. Where there is a problem, the Iranian regime is lurking in the background. Of course the Iraqi government must take responsibility for its negligence and corruption, but it must also acknowledge that its willingness to let Iran interfere has been detrimental.
Iran, with Iraqi permission, has built dams on the Tigris River – the city’s main source of water. And Iran was even permitted to direct waterways away from the locals towards its own interests.
The people of Basra are also concerned about Iran’s presence because it has been widely reported that the Iranian regime has moved a number of its missiles there. It has also been said that the Iranian regime plans to manufacture weapons in Basra leading to the conclusion that Iran will be using Iraq as a base for attacking neighbouring enemies including Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The political situation in Iraq is very delicate. Prime Minister Haider al Abadi is losing his grip on power, as is Moqtada Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist Movement and one of the most influential politicians in Iraq.
Sadr is conscious of the fact that the Iraqi people want Iran proxies to be completely removed from the country and he is keen to appease them. However, he is also very concerned that he is going to suffer the same fate as his father – Shiite scholar Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr – who he believes was assassinated by the Iranian regime.
He is not the only one that fears the Iranian regime – the Iraqi people do too but they are looking past their fear and turning it into anger.
The United States is putting unprecedented pressure on the Iranian regime and the best move it could make now would be to force Iran out of Iraq. There is no doubt that Iran will try to undermine all efforts made to assist Iraq, but there is no other solution. Now is the time to get Iran evicted from Iraq.